The 2023 World Series will be between the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Texas Rangers. This definitely isn’t the World Series anyone expected. Still, the World Series is the biggest event in Major League Baseball.
And one of the favorite pastimes of baseball fans and World Series followers is to see records made or broken. Will this Series be historical? Will any records be set? Will there be a memorable game that makes the record book?
We’ll find out soon enough.
Until then, let’s look at some facts about the World Series to get you interested in this matchup.
When was the first World Series? 1903: Pittsburgh Pirates vs. Boston Pilgrims.
Although baseball was played in the 19th century, what’s considered the first meeting between the older National League and the younger American League took place in 1903. It was called the World Championship Games.
The Pittsburgh Pirates represented the National League and the Boston Pilgrims the American League.
- It was a best-of-nine series, which the Pilgrims won 5-3. Boston had a few aces on the team, including a hurler who won two games in the Series: Cy Young
- The first World Series hit ever was a triple by Pittsburgh’s Tommy Leach. He was driven in by the first RBI and single in WS history, hit by Honus Wagner
- Similar to some of the postseason games we just witnessed in 2023, Pittsburgh scored four runs to start the game
- There were 25 triples recorded in the series. Crowds stood in the outfield…and if a hit rolled into the crowd, in was considered a triple
- The final score of Game 1 of the first World Series was Pittsburgh 7, Boston 3. The Pilgrims would later become the Boston Red Sox. Fenway Park would open in 1912, making it the oldest MLB stadium still in existence
- Game 2 featured the first two-home-run game by a batter, Boston’s Patsy Dougherty
Who won the Series the next year in 1904? No one.
There was no winner in 1904 because the World Series was not played. The leadership of the New York Giants, who won the pennant, refused to play the Boston Pilgrims for a variety of reasons. They said that “winning the only real Major League” was good enough to be crowned the best team in baseball.
Was the World Series canceled any other times?
Just once, in 1994, due to the players’ strike. The season ended in August of that year.
You might have guessed that there was no World Series during World War II, but that’s not the case.
Let’s talk about World Series “firsts.”
Of course, the first World Series had lots of obvious firsts, but other significant moments didn’t happen right away. Here are a few:
- The first grand slam? That was by Elmer Smith of the Cleveland Indians in 1920
- The first pinch hit. Ira Thomas, Detroit Tigers, 1908
- The first pinch-hit home run. That belongs to Yogi Berra, in 1947
- First (and only) triple play. Bill Wambsganns, Cleveland Indians, 1920
- First (and only) no-hitter. Yankees pitcher Don Larsen’s 1956 perfect game against the Brooklyn Dodgers*
*In the 2022 World Series, four Astros pitchers tossed a combined no-hitter against the Philadelphia Phillies. Literally an asterisk statistic, it doesn’t compare to a traditional one-pitcher no-hitter.
The Texas Rangers and World Series appearances.
This is the third time the Texas Rangers have been in the World Series. They lost in 2010 to the San Francisco Giants, and they lost in seven games the next season to the St Louis Cardinals.
- Twice in Game 6 of that Cardinals Series, Texas was one strike away from winning the game...and the Series. They didn’t close it out, and lost in Game 7.
The Rangers are one of six teams that have never won a World Series. Do you know the others? Here they are:
- The Colorado Rockies
- The San Diego Padres
- The Milwaukee Brewers
- The Tampa Bay Rays
- The Seattle Mariners
Seattle has the distinction of being the only MLB team never to make an appearance in the World Series.
The Arizona Diamondbacks and World Series appearances.
This season marks the second time the Diamondbacks have been in the Fall Classic, having made their first appearance in 2001 against the powerful New York Yankees.
- The Diamondbacks had been in the League only since 1998 and were up against the modern-day Yankees dynasty
- The Yankees had won the previous four World Series and were the favorite, to make it five straight
- Besides being the odds-on favorite, the Yankees were the sentimental favorite in the hearts of many fans. The Series started less than two months after the September 11th attacks, and everyone was supportive of New York and what the city had been through
Indeed, the Yankees almost made it five straight, but Arizona had two aces on their staff, Curt Schilling and Randy Johnson, who earned co-MVP awards after they led Arizona to a Series victory in seven games.
The Yankees have the most World Series titles, with 27.
They have also appeared in the World Series 40 times (more than double the number of the next team, the Cardinals). Whose next in World Series titles?
11 St. Louis Cardinals
9 Oakland/Philadelphia/Kansas City Athletics
9 Boston Red Sox
8 San Francisco/New York Giants
7 Los Angeles/Brooklyn Dodgers
5 Cincinnati Reds
5 Pittsburgh Pirates
Old teams. Old ways.
There are a few things to keep in mind as you look at the number of titles:
- All of the teams listed above have been around for more than 100 years and are among the very oldest teams in baseball. The Rangers (established in 1961 as the Washington Senators) and the Diamondbacks, by comparison, are just getting started as franchises
- Until 1969, the teams that won their League’s pennant went to the World Series. The Yankees won the majority of their World Series titles well before then, without having to participate in any playoff rounds
You can be sure that all the Division winners this year wish they could roll back the clock. Both the Rangers and the Diamondbacks were Wild Card teams this season.
Resources: wikipedia.org/wiki/World_Series; mlb.com/postseason/history/world-series;
baseball-almanac.com/rb_ws1.shtml/ws_hitting record; 20th Century Baseball Chronicle: Publications International Ltd., 1992; The World Series: An Illustrated History of the Fall Classic. Tess Press, 2008: Josh Leventhal